Senate adds funding for foreign affairs. What's next?
A few months ago, I wrote about how the House of Representatives eviscerated the foreign affairs budget in the 2012 budget process. Throughout the summer, we mobilized to pressure the Senate to avoid disproportionate cuts to funding for diplomacy and development. Thousands of you emailed your senators, and hundreds of you put your own money toward development programs in our unique campaign to demonstrate real, meaningful support for this funding.
The good news is that the Senate has released their version of the State and Foreign Operations budget, and it includes $5 billion more for the baseline budget than the House version (they both included funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, which covers civilian work related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). They were able to include a higher number and stay under the security spending cap imposed by the debt ceiling deal through keeping the baseline Pentagon budget at $513 billion, leaving out the $17 billion increase the House added.
Now we have a real fight ahead of us. Right now, Congress is working on an interim measure to fund the government through November 18th so they can buy more time to work out a 2012 budget. The House and Senate will have to come to some kind of agreement on a number for the diplomacy and development programs. Our voices will be crucial in making the case that members of Congress should fight for the higher number. For longer-term spending, we will need to push the deficit super committee to avoid slashing international affairs when coming to a deficit reduction deal, which is due on November 23rd.
Many of you joined us in the national call-in day Monday, along with activists from the ONE campaign, Bread for the World, Oxfam and others. Keep an eye on the blog and your inboxes for other opportunities to influence the 2012 budget and the deficit deal in the coming weeks.